You can’t shop for a cast iron skillet without considering Lodge.
It’s one of the highest-rated skillets and tops nearly all best cast iron cookware lists.
But are they really that good? What makes them so special?
In this in-depth review, I break down the pros and cons of Lodge cast iron skillets.
- How they’re made
- How they look, feel, and perform (with lots of pictures)
- The differences between Lodge’s skillet offerings
- How they compare to the competition
- And much more
By the end, you’ll be able to confidently decide if a Lodge cast iron skillet is right for you.
Use the links below to navigate the review:
- Heat Conduction
- Heat Retention
- Cooking Performance
- Lodge Classic vs. Blacklock
- Lodge Classic vs. Chef Collection
- Materials and Construction
- What Others Are Saying About Lodge Cast Iron Skillets
- FAQs About Lodge Cast Iron Skillets
- Bottom Line: Should You Buy a Lodge Cast Iron Skillet?
Lodge cast iron skillets have a classic, rustic look. It’s what you expect from a cast iron skillet — heavy and well-built with thick walls, a dark exterior, and a subtle sheen from the seasoning.
You can see the rugged surface of the cast iron if you look closely. The tiny bumps help grip meat, lending to its superior ability to sear and brown food.
The interior and exterior surfaces are pre-seasoned with vegetable oil, which provides a slick surface so you can use the skillet right away.
You’ll get the same look and performance no matter the size of the skillet, with one exception — Lodge’s grill pan features grooves to maintain space between the food and cooking surface, mimicking the results of a grill.
Like most cast iron skillets, Lodge features one-piece construction (the handle and body are all one piece), eliminating crevices and folds for dirt and greasy buildup to gather.
All Lodge skillets include a looped handle for convenient hanging.
Due to the weight and how hot the handle can get while cooking, a shorter handle can provide more control. Keep in mind that the handle will get extremely hot, so don’t touch it without a potholder.
Lodge’s 12-inch cast iron skillet comes with a red silicone handle holder designed to add grip and protect your hand. While many cooks find it convenient, I find it too loose and prefer a standard oven mitt.
The skillets feature pour spouts on each side, perfect for pouring sauces and gravies or pouring out grease after cooking with minimal mess.
Larger skillets (10-inches and up) have a helper handle with “Lodge” recessed into it. It helps you get a good grip, especially with the curved ledge just underneath the handle.
Finally, the bottom lays flat, except for the recessed space that bears the Lodge logo. That makes it ideal for use on any stove, including induction.
When I evaluate the performance of cookware, I examine two categories:
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- Heat Conduction: How fast and evenly does it heat?
- Heat Retention: How well does it maintain its temperature?
Heat conduction is an area where all cast iron skillets (including Lodge) struggle. Since the walls are thick and iron has low thermal conductivity, cast iron skillets heat up slowly and unevenly.
Alternatively, cast iron skillets have superior heat retention. The thickness allows the skillet to absorb and retain heat for long periods.
Now that you know the basics, you’re probably wondering how Lodge cast iron skillets compare to the competition.
To find out, I conducted a simple test comparing the heat conduction and retention of the Lodge cast iron skillet versus the Calphalon cast iron skillet (another highly-rated and top-selling skillet).
First, I poured 3 cups of cold water into both the Lodge and Calphalon cast iron skillets. Then, I placed each skillet on burners of the same size and turned the heat to high.
My goal was to measure heat conduction by comparing how long each skillet took to boil the water and how evenly the bubbles dispersed.
The Calphalon skillet boiled the water in 4 minutes and 16 seconds. The Lodge skillet took 4 minutes and 45 seconds.
Although the Calphalon skillet boiled the water faster, Lodge showed much more even heat distribution.
When the water in the Calphalon skillet began to boil, bubbles appeared in one cluster on the left side of the pan.
In contrast, the bubbles in the Lodge skillet were uniform across the cooking surface.
Even heating is crucial. Hot or cold spots can ruin a meal by overcooking in one area and undercooking in another.
I conducted another test to find out how well Lodge cast iron skillets retain heat.
After recording the results of my heat conduction test, I removed the Lodge and Calphalon skillets from the heat and placed them on the counter.
After five minutes, I measured the temperature of the water in each skillet.
The water in the Lodge skillet measured 131°F.
The water in the Calphalon skillet measured 125°F.
I let the skillets sit another five minutes (ten minutes total) and measured the water temperature again.
After ten minutes, the water in the Lodge skillet measured 116°F.
The water in the Calphalon skillet measured 109°F.
The results of both the heat conduction and retention tests were not surprising because the Lodge cast iron skillet has thicker walls than the Calphalon skillet (5mm vs. 3mm).
Thicker cookware takes longer to heat up but distributes heat more evenly and retains it longer.
The Lodge cast iron skillet tested well in my controlled heat conduction and retention experiments, but how does it perform in everyday cooking?
The first thing you’ll notice is its heft. It’s a heavy piece of cookware. It feels solid and secure, and you can tell just by holding it that it’s built to last.
Despite the skillet’s weight, the handle and helper handle make it easy to maneuver safely with two hands.
The helper handle features a small ridge on the bottom, ensuring your hand won’t slip. I’ve found that minor feature to be reassuring on more than one occasion.
In terms of cooking, Lodge performs as advertised. It takes a few minutes to heat up, but it cooks evenly and maintains its temperature once it’s hot.
Thinner pans lose heat when you put a cold piece of meat on them, which interferes with searing and browning.
But Lodge skillets have excellent heat retention; the temperature barely decreases when you introduce cold ingredients.
Here’s a look at chicken cutlets I recently fried in the Lodge cast iron skillet:
And here’s a look at wings I roasted:
As I mentioned in the Design section, Lodge cast iron skillets come with a red silicone handle grip that you can slide on and off.
While it effectively shields your hand from the hot handle, it’s not secure. You need to grip the silicone firmly to prevent it from sliding off the handle.
After a few attempts, I decided the risk of dropping a hot skillet wasn’t worth it, and I’ve since been using a standard oven mitt, which works fine.
Overall, the cooking performance is excellent — you get consistent and reliable heat conduction and retention. I’ve tested several other cast iron skillets, and Lodge performs on par or better than the rest.
Lodge cast iron skillets come in multiple sizes, from small to extra large.
Here’s a quick breakdown of all the sizes available (click the links to view each skillet on Amazon):
The small skillets are great for making meals for one, small desserts, or side dishes for a party with a tasting menu.
The larger sizes (12-inch and above) are ideal for large families and entertaining.
12- and 10-inch skillets are the most popular sizes.
Lodge also offers covered skillets, deep cast iron skillets, specialty skillets. They offer three cast iron collections: Classic, Blacklock, and Chef Collection. The sizes available vary by collection.
Speaking of collections, let’s quickly look at the differences between Lodge’s three offerings.
Lodge Classic vs. Blacklock
Blacklock was the name of Lodge’s original foundry that burned in 1910. Now, its roots are displayed proudly on the bottom of the skillets in this collection.
- Blacklock skillets have thinner walls and are lighter than Classic skillets. For example, the 12-inch Blacklock skillet weighs 5.38 pounds, while the 12-inch Classic skillet weighs 8 pounds.
- Blacklock skillets are more expensive than Classic (Classic skillets are roughly half the price of Blacklock).
- Blacklock handles are longer and designed with a steeper angle to stay cooler than Classic handles.
- Blacklock skillets come in fewer sizes than Classic
- Blacklock sizes: 7-inch, 10.25-inch, 12-inch and 14.5-inch
- Classic sizes: 3.5-inch, 5-inch, 6.5-inch, 8-inch, 9-inch, 10.25-inch, 12-inch, 13.25-inch, 15-inch
- Blacklock skillets are triple-seasoned for superior non-stick performance. Classic is seasoned but not as extensively (one layer).
- Blacklock’s handle design is similar to Classic, but Blacklock is more intricate, forking before connecting to the body.
Overall, the Blacklock collection is an upgrade from Classic with unique handles, thinner construction, and a higher price tag. Learn more about Lodge Blacklock skillets on LodgeCastIron.com.
Lodge Classic vs. Chef Collection
Lodge’s Chef Collection is a redesigned version of the Classic, with added features to improve comfort, control, and versatility.
- Have a longer, elevated handle with a comfortable grip
- Feature larger pour spouts
- Have gently sloped sidewalls that are shallower and more spatula-friendly
- Boast a larger helper handle for increased stability
- Are lighter (12-inch Chef Collection skillet weighs 6.5 pounds, and the 12-inch Classic skillet weighs 8 pounds)
- Have fewer size options (Chef Collection sizes: 8-inch, 10-inch, and 12-inch)
- Are slightly more expensive
Overall, Chef Collection and Classic skillets are similar. The Chef Collection features enhancements that make it more attractive. It’s still affordable but costs a bit more than Lodge’s Classic skillet. Check out the Chef collection on Amazon.
Materials and Construction
Even though they are heavy and durable, creating a Lodge cast iron skillet is an intricate and delicate process. Everything has to be exact, starting with the materials.
Lodge uses a high-quality mixture of pig iron, recycled steel, Lodge foundry castings, and upcycled Lodge cast iron cookware that did not pass inspection.
Here’s how those materials are transformed into cast iron skillets:
- Transporting the Materials: For efficient transport of these heavy materials, Lodge professionals use a giant electromagnet that can carry up to five tons of metal.
- Weighing: Once the materials are added to the loading chamber, they are weighed to ensure a consistent result every time. Next, alloys are added as part of the precise chemistry of the cast iron.
- Melting: The proprietary Lodge mixture is melted in an electric induction furnace where temperatures exceed 2,000°F. Once the mixture liquefies, slag (impurities) rises to the surface and is removed manually.
- Sampling/Silicon Adding: The mixture is sampled for its chemistry, and if all is well, silicon is then added to the mix. That requires the furnace to be tilted at a 90-degree angle. As it is poured into a ladle, the silicon is thrown in by hand at a precise time.
- Refining: The ladle takes the molten mixture to the casting area. Once there, vermiculite is added — a mineral that serves as a binding agent that attaches to slag. This second pass removes more slag to ensure top-quality iron.
- Casting: Once complete, the molten iron is taken to the casting area. That is where sand molds are ready to receive the molten liquid. The molds feature different patterns, such as a skillet or Dutch oven. Molds are frequently inspected.
- Pouring: The molten iron is poured into a sand mold. Sand melts at a higher temperature than iron, allowing it to retain its shape. Each casting pour is controlled by hand for a precise result.
- Shaking: After the cast cookware is formed, it is put on a conveyor belt to shake off the sand molds. The sand then gets recycled.
- Scrubbing: The cookware enters a rotating drum. This drum is filled with iron bits designed to break up the remaining sand and scrub it from the cookware. These iron bits are also recycled.
- Cleaning: After being sorted, the cookware is thoroughly cleaned with a machine that blasts steel shot (fine particles) at all sides. Next, the cookware is ground by hand to remove any sharp edges and placed into a bath of soap, water, and stainless steel media for deep cleaning.
- Seasoning: Each cast iron skillet is hung on a conveyor. The cookware is then heat rinsed, blown dried, and coated with vegetable oil. It is baked and then cooled to prepare for packaging.
- Packaging: Each Lodge cast iron skillet is inspected before being packaged by hand.
At every step in this process, Lodge professionals are there. Though Lodge uses machinery to make the process more efficient, the people make the difference. Many Lodge professionals have worked there for generations.
Check out this video to get a behind-the-scenes look at how Lodge cast iron skillets are made.
Lodge cast iron, like most cast iron, is very affordable. A 12-inch skillet costs half as much as a premium stainless steel or copper pan, even less in some cases.
People often ask how Lodge can be so cheap since it’s made in the USA, where labor and production costs are higher than places like China.
The reason is that cast iron cookware is heavy, so shipping it across continents would be costly. It’s much cheaper for Lodge to make its cast iron skillets close to their primary customers, which reside in the United States.
The price varies by collection and size. The Classic skillets are the least expensive, and Blacklock skillets are the most expensive. Chef Collection skillets fall in the middle.
And, obviously, larger skillets are more pricey than smaller ones.
To see current pricing for popular sizes of Lodge cast iron skillets, check out the following chart:
|Lodge 3.5-Inch Cast Iron Skillet||Amazon|
|Lodge 6.5-Inch Cast Iron Skillet||Amazon|
|Lodge 8-Inch Cast Iron Skillet||Amazon|
|Lodge 9-Inch Cast Iron Skillet||Amazon|
|Lodge 10.25-Inch Cast Iron Skillet||Amazon|
|Lodge 10.5-Inch Cast Iron Grill Pan||Amazon|
|Lodge 12-Inch Cast Iron Skillet||Amazon|
|Lodge Cast Iron Skillet Bundle. 12-, 10.25-, and 8-Inch Skillets||Amazon|
|Lodge 5-Quart Deep Cast Iron Skillet||Amazon|
|Lodge Cast Iron Cookware 5-Piece Set||Amazon|
No product is perfect, and the Lodge cast iron skillet is no exception. In this section, I reveal the downsides of Lodge, so you know the whole story:
Lodge could use some work on its consistency when it comes to seasoning its cast iron cookware. Many people report that the seasoning is either uneven or lacking, requiring re-seasoning before the first use or early on.
Slow, uneven heating
Compared to fully-clad stainless steel, aluminum, and copper cookware, cast iron (including Lodge) heats unevenly and slowly. There are two reasons why:
1) The cookware bottom and walls are very thick.
2) Iron is a poor conductor of heat.
Yet, once cast iron gets hot, it stays hot, and the temperature settles evenly across the cookware. In short, cooking with Lodge requires patience.
Let’s face it, these skillets are heavy even when they are empty and even more difficult to maneuver when they’re full of food. For example, the 12-inch skillet weighs almost 8 pounds empty, and the 15-inch version tips the scales at 12.36 pounds.
While you can use Lodge cast iron skillets on any cooktop, use care with electric glass top stoves. Because of its rugged construction, dragging the cookware across delicate stoves or countertops can cause damage. Also, due to the weight of the cookware, do not drop it on cooktops.
Cleaning and upkeep
Lodge cast iron (and cast iron cookware in general) requires extra care to clean and season properly. It is not a complicated process, but it requires more time and maintenance than stainless steel or non-stick cookware.
Induction cooking issues
While it is designed to work with induction cooktops, the recessed logo on the bottom makes it tough to get good contact with the induction plate. You might find you have to constantly adjust the position of the skillet, which can be cumbersome over time.
Silicone handle holder is loose
Some Lodge cast iron skillets come with a red silicone handle holder. It’s designed to protect your hand from burning on the hot handle, but it slides off too easily, requiring you to grip it firmly to maneuver the skillet. I found it was more of an annoyance than a benefit.
What Others Are Saying About Lodge Cast Iron Skillets
Lodge cast iron skillets are frequently featured on “top ten” and “best of” lists for cookware, often as the headliner. Here are just a handful of reviews from respected product review voices:
The New York Times’ Wirecutter names the Lodge Chef Collection 12-Inch skillet as the Best Cast Iron Skillet. The online product review publication has tested 16 skillets since 2017, and this one comes out on top. The reviewers love that it is lightweight, pre-seasoned, offers ergonomic handles that are “easy-to-grip,” and is “better at searing than the competition.” No surprise that the runner-up was also Lodge (Classic 12-Inch Skillet) for those who desire a “deeper, heavier skillet.”
Consumer Reports tested 23 cast-iron frying pans (skillets), and Lodge made the top four list of the best seasoned cast iron skillets. It’s praised for its excellent searing, iconic status, and longevity. It’s not the best choice for baking but the perfect choice for a home chef who wants to use cast iron.
Bon Appetit put the Lodge Classic 10.25-inch skillet at the top of its list of the Best Cast Iron Pans. The reviewers noted its affordability and ease of use for newbies, as it comes pre-seasoned and ready to use.
Serious Eats tested 15 cast iron skillets and chose Lodge as the Best Cast Iron Skillet. Specifically, the review site chose two Lodge skillets. For everyday use, the reviewers selected the Lodge Classic 10.25-inch skillet. For the lightweight pick, they chose the Lodge Blacklock Skillet (in any size).
The Spruce Eats awarded Lodge skillets three spots on the Best 9 Cast Iron Pans to Buy list. Best Overall designation went to Lodge Classic Skillet for its durability and reliability. The Lodge Blacklock Covered Deep Skillet was called Most Versatile and praised for its capacity and flexibility. Finally, reviewers picked the Lodge Classic 5-inch as the Best Compact option, noting its ability to fit in toaster ovens and deliver small serving sizes for one.
Popular Mechanics named the Lodge Classic 12-inch skillet as the Best Everyday Skillet. It got high marks for its affordability and searing ability. Though reviewers thought it was on the heavy side and took a while to get hot, they called it an “affordable choice that’ll last for decades.”
Allrecipes made a top ten list of the Best-Rated Cast Iron Skillets. Based on user reviews, the Lodge Classic 12-Inch Skillet was Best Overall, calling it “royalty” in the world of cast iron. It’s a good-sized pan, though heavy, and gets better with time. Lodge skillets earned three more spots on that same list, mainly for searing performance and versatility.
Forbes gave Lodge four spots on its 13 Best Cast Iron Skillets list. The Lodge Classic 8-inch skillet was selected as the Best Cast Iron Skillet for Everyday Use because of its value and performance in the kitchen. The reviewers gave similar praise to the Blacklock Collection and Classic grill pans.
Gear Patrol’s list of the Best Cast Iron Skillets You Can Buy includes the Lodge Classic 8-inch skillet as the Smart Spend option. They called the skillet one that “will last a lifetime” and shared that it “can take a beating.” The reviewers praised the quality you get for the low price and lauded its ability to cook just about anything, especially once it gets good and seasoned over time.
Good Housekeeping named the Lodge Classic 10.25-inch skillet as Best Overall Cast Iron Skillet. The reviewers pointed out the durability and value you get for such a low price. They love the short handle and silicone handle protector.
FAQs About Lodge Cast Iron Skillets
Below are the most frequently asked questions about Lodge cast iron skillets.
Lodge cast iron skillets are made in South Pittsburg, Tennessee. The company was founded in 1896, making it the oldest and longest-operating manufacturer of cast iron in America.
Yes, but over time you will need to season it again. The Lodge Seasoning Guide explains the process.
Wash it by hand with warm water and a nylon scrubber. Never put it in the dishwasher. You can use a pan scraper to dislodge food bits. If needed, you can add a small amount of a mild dish detergent. Dry the pan thoroughly with a lint-free cloth or paper towel. Rub a light layer of cooking oil on the surface and then use a paper towel to wipe away extra oil residue. Refer to Lodge’s guide to cleaning cast iron cookware for more tips.
Scour and clean the surface thoroughly with a metal scouring pad. Dry it fully. You can use the Lodge Rust Eraser to remove the rust and then wipe it clean to remove the rust residue. Apply a thin layer of oil to the surface. Place upside down on the top rack in an oven preheated to between 450 and 500℉ for one hour. Be sure to place aluminum foil under the pan to catch excess oil. Allow the pot to cool. Repeat as needed.
Pre-seasoned cast iron has no enamel coating. Enamel coating eliminates the need for seasoning.
Lodge cast iron skillets are cheap in part because they’re made in Tennessee, and it’s cheaper to ship such heavy items to stores and customers locally than it would be to import them from overseas. Also, the main ingredient, iron, is much cheaper than stainless steel, copper, and many other cookware materials.
It all depends on your situation and needs. The larger skillet allows you to cook more food at once without overcrowding, but it requires more storage space and has a higher price. The smaller one offers the same performance but with a smaller (and lighter) profile. Read this comparison of 10- vs. 12-inch pans to learn all the factors to consider.
Bottom Line: Should You Buy a Lodge Cast Iron Skillet?
Now that you know all the key facts about Lodge cast iron skillets, are they right for you?
Before I give you my recommendation, let’s recap the pros and cons:
- Highly affordable and suitable for any budget
- Long, respected reputation in the cookware industry
- Made in a foundry in the same US town since 1896
- With proper care, it can last for a lifetime
- It comes in multiple sizes and options
- Safe for use on all cooktops, in ovens, on grills, and in campfires
- The seasoning process is simple
- All cookware is backed by the Lodge Promise
- Heats slowly
- Heavy, difficult to lift and maneuver
- Pre-seasoning is uneven at times
- The sand molding creates a rough bottom that can damage glass top stoves or delicate countertops
- The recessed logo on the bottom can cause issues with induction cooking
- Requires more maintenance (i.e., seasoning) compared to non-stick and stainless steel cookware
- Susceptible to rust, which requires an intense cleaning process
Bottom line — I recently named Lodge the best cast iron cookware brand because of its durability, functional design, and low price. And, as my tests showed, it heats more evenly and retains heat longer than the competition.
Although there are similar-performing alternatives, none boast the track record, consistent quality, and locally-made craftsmanship of Lodge.
So, do they live up to the hype? Are they really that good? Absolutely.
If you’re in the market for a cast iron skillet, my number one recommendation is Lodge.
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